Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick

Born: January 23, 1382

Salwarpe, Worcestershire, England

Died: April 30, 1439

Rouen, Normandy, France (Age 57)

Warwick in History

When Richard Beauchamp was born in 1382 it is ironic that his two godparents were King Richard II and Richard Scrope, the future Archbishop of York. However, Richard's father Thomas was one of the Lords Appellant that humiliated the king in 1388, executing or exiling several of his favorites and forcing the king himself to relinquish most of his power. In 1397, King Richard decided to take his revenge on his enemies. Of the senior Lords Appellant, the Earl of Arundel was executed; the king's Uncle Thomas of Woodstock was murdered and the elder Beauchamp was exiled. Much of the possessions of the former appellants were handed out to a group of the king's followers, and the Beauchamp name was nearly destroyed. For this reason it is no surprise that the younger Beauchamp threw his support behind Henry Bolingbroke in 1399 when he decided to return to England and usurp the throne from his cousin. After Bolingbroke's accession as Henry IV, the Beauchamp family returned to a place of prestige. Richard's father was recalled from exile and was to die in 1401, leaving his earldom and vast lands and estates to his son Richard.

During Henry IV's reign, the new Earl of Warwick played a large part in subduing the many civil rebellions that were occurring. In 1403, he participated in the Battle of Shrewsbury against Henry IV's former allies, the Percy family of Northumberland. After the battle he was made a Knight of the Garter. Warwick's primary contributions for King Henry were against the Welsh, who had been in rebellion since 1400 under the leadership of Owen Glendower. It is through the Welsh rebellions that Warwick developed a relationship with Hal, the young Prince of Wales. In 1405, when Archbishop Scrope rebelled against the king, Warwick took part in his prosecution and ultimate death sentence, despite the fact that Scrope was one of his godparents. Warwick most likely fell out of favor slightly with Henry IV during his last years when he sided more with the Prince of Wales, who was continuously gaining more power over his increasingly ill father; it does not seem as if Warwick was ever mistrusted by the king though. When the prince ascended the throne as Henry V in 1413 Warwick was given a large number of important responsibilities. He played a big role in the renewal of the Hundred Years War against France, participating in the siege of Harfleur in 1415, and accompanied the king on the Norman campaign of 1417.

By the time Henry V died and was succeeded by his infant son Henry VI in 1422, Warwick was powerful enough to have been an obvious choice for the new king's minority council and was awarded the even more prestigious privilege of serving as the new king's tutor, a position he would hold until 1437. Throughout the early reign of Henry VI Warwick continued to gain power and influence. He was given several important posts in France, including captain of Rouen and Calais. In the factions that formed at the court of the young king, Warwick seems to have sided with the king's uncle John, Duke of Bedford, and his great-uncle Henry, Cardinal of Winchester, over the king's younger uncle Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Warwick also faced several problems of inheritance with his in-laws, the heirs of Lord Berkeley. In the end, Warwick emerged successful and was considered one of the most powerful landowners in England by the time of his death. For the rest of his life, Warwick was heavily involved in subduing French resistance in the English occupied sections of France. Ultimately, he died at Rouen in 1439. His title and lands were inherited by his son Henry and ultimately passed on to Richard Neville, who had married Warwick's daughter Anne. Despite his earlier ties to King Richard II, Warwick remained a loyal subject to the Lancastrians, in whose service he ultimately died.

Warwick in Shakespeare

Appears in: Henry IV, Part 2; Henry V; Henry VI, Part 1?

Warwick appears as a minor character in 2 Henry IV and Henry V, serving as a loyal subject to the respective kings in both plays. The character of Warwick becomes complex in 1 Henry VI. It is not made clear whether the Warwick present in this play is supposed to be Richard Beauchamp or his son-in-law Richard Neville the "kingmaker." The events of 1 Henry VI are highly episodic when it comes to time. Warwick is seen as immediately supporting Richard Plantagenet, the soon to be Duke of York, in the garden scene, where the men each pick either red or white roses to represent their loyalties to the Lancastrians or Yorkists, respectively. However, it is highly unlikely that Beauchamp, a loyal Lancastrian, would have sided with York. It was Richard Neville, Beauchamp's son-in-law, that supported the Yorkists. At the time of the elder Warwick's death, Neville was only nine-years-old. In addition, one must consider that the garden scene in the play is completely fictitious. York did not rebel against the king's followers until 1455 and did not openly pursue the throne until 1460, well after Warwick's death in 1439. The events of the entire play complicate matters even more so. Lord Talbot, who died in 1453, has died by the play's end while Gloucester and Winchester, who both died in 1447, and, to an even more absurd extent, Exeter, who died in 1426, are all still alive. For this reason, it is difficult to decipher which Warwick Shakespeare intended for the play. His support for the Yorkists points to Warwick the "kingmaker," while the time line (which is completely undependable) points more towards the Beauchamp earl.


Carpenter, Christine. ‘Beauchamp, Richard, thirteenth earl of Warwick (1382–1439)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 8 Nov 2009]

Make a Free Website with Yola.